INCHEON, South Korea (Reuters) - PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem is confident the Presidents Cup has a bright future despite the overwhelming dominance of the United States over the years and said bringing the event to South Korea was a milestone in the development of Asian golf.
Since the inaugural edition of the Presidents Cup in 1994, the United States have beaten a team of international players in eight events and tied once, their only defeat coming at the 1998 competition at Royal Melbourne.
That one-sidedness led to calls for a shake-up and the format for this week’s event at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Incheon has been tweaked to reduce the number of total points on offer from 34 to 30.
Having fewer matches could help the International team, which does not have the same strength in depth as the Americans.
Finchem said the Presidents Cup would still be going strong long after it leaves South Korea, which is the first Asian country to host the event.
“I think the Presidents Cup is successful regardless of any particular match outcome,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“You always want to see the matches close. I hope they are. But I think the fundamental thing here is what’s happening with golf in Asia, what the future of golf is in Asia.
“I told the players the other night, 20 years from now, you look back, and this will be one of the milestones in terms of where golf is in Asia.”
While the popularity of golf continues to grow on the continent, its players are also making an impression and International captain Nick Price has players from a record four Asian countries on his team — Bae Sang-moon (Korea), Thongchai Jaidee (Thailand), Hideki Matsuyama (Japan) and Anirban Lahiri (India).
“I think this is a great step in the Presidents Cup to be in Asia, coincidentally with a year where there are four Asian countries represented on the team,” added Finchem.
“Says a lot about the way golf is developing in this region of the world, and I think it was a great choice to come to Korea because of their ability to stage big events, and because both on the men and women’s side, the way they are developing elite players.”
The Presidents Cup returns to U.S. soil in two years’ time at Liberty National in New Jersey, and while a decision on the next international venue in 2019 was close, Finchem was giving nothing away.
“We’re pretty close to making an announcement about four years from now,” he said, “but we’re not going to make it right this minute.”
Editing by Amlan Chakraborty